The first original Persian-language anatomy textbook based on western medical science, printed in a very small number of copies for the use of Polak’s Persian students. Polak, an Austrian physician, was responsible for establishing a modern European-based medical curriculum in Iran, augmenting (and eventually supplanting) the traditional Galenic medicine that had been taught in that country since the tenth century. At the invitation of the Persian government, Polak moved to Tehran in November 1851 to teach at Iran’s Dar al-Fonun (now the University of Tehran), the country’s first modern institute of higher learning, which included a medical school for the training of army physicians. He remained at the school for over eight years, returning to Austria in 1860.
During his tenure at Dar al-Fonun Polak instructed classes of 15-20 students in the basics of Western medicine and surgery—a task made more difficult by the students’ lack of the necessary scientific knowledge and background, since these first pupils “consisted mostly of princes, sons of courtiers and other high government officials” (Floor, The beginnings of modern medicine in Iran, pp. 1-15).